Renault Scénic

The vehicle, which is now 20 years old, had a big impact in making MPVs available to a wider portion of the market

Today, the range of vehicle types available in the C-segment is diverse, with not just hatchbacks and saloons but SUVs and MPVs too. Back in the late 1980s and early 1990s, however, the variety was much more limited, and it was into this environment that Renault introduced the Scénic.

“You have to understand that the automotive landscape in the C-segment at that time was very classical – so very boring,” explains Benoit Bochard, a deputy chief product planner at the time of the original vehicle.

“You had Astras and Escorts which were successful, but they weren’t exactly very sexy, and if you had a young family you had to choose between cars like these. But something that was very visible in our research was that people aspired to have a large MPV like the Espace or the Chrysler Voyager Pontiac.

“An MPV, in the imagination of the people we interviewed, was a lot to do with the added freedom it provided – being able to change the number of seats and adjust the car to their needs by changing the size of the trunk appropriately.” 

Renault had revealed a concept car for the 1991 Frankfurt motor show that indicated the direction the designers were heading. With a height of 2m, the car was very tall and provided a seating position for the driver that was noticeably raised compared to other non-commercial vehicles of the era. 

Five years later Renault launched the series production Scénic, which was based on the initial research vehicle.

Its full title was officially Scénic Mégane. The first part of the name stood for Safety Concept Embodied in a New Innovative Car, while the second part made reference to the platform the vehicle relied on.

Bochard says: “Our main concern was cost, as the car the interviewed people were dreaming of was one or two segments higher. So one of the objectives was to keep the versatility and roominess but at a reasonable price gap to the classical Mégane or competitor.”

The key to achieving this goal was basing the car on the regular Mégane. Using the same platform, the Scénic shared the same powertrain, chassis and materials as the hatchback.

tags: July-August 2016 Renault